More Surveys Needed Please

Our management and compensation consulting firm Johanson Group, a sister company to DBSquared just completed and presented the results of a regional salary and benefits survey. The 2013 Arkansas Compensation Association (ACA) survey included pay and benefits data from 66 public and private organizations in the greater central Arkansas region. The 2013 study posted base pay averages inclusive of Simple Averages, Weighted Averages, and Salary Range Minimums, Midpoints and Maximums for 170 position titles. The 2013 survey retained 75% of the organizations that participated in the 2012 study and 25% represented new survey participants. This annual survey has been compiled and managed by Johanson Group for almost two decades and we spend an appreciable amount of time scrubbing the raw data for outliers and data entry errors. In essence, Johanson Group works hard to compile a valid and meaningful annual survey report on behalf of the Arkansas Compensation Association members and the organizations that purchase this comprehensive salary and benefits survey from ACA.

We have heard comments from our clients that market pay survey data fluctuates from one year to the next year. These comments spoke clearly and were validated by a comparison of the 2013 ACA salary study averages with the 2012 ACA study. Even though the overall average market inflation based pay data for the 170 positions average between 2.44% and 3.27%, there were individual job title pay average variances from -46.17% to 61.06% and the following table offers additional insight of the amount of pay average variances from the 2013 to 2012 studies.

In the recent survey presentation to the ACA members, I stressed the importance of utilizing and referencing more market pay surveys or published pay aggregated market data from organizations like KENEXA, an IBM company due to the amount of fluctuation in reported pay averages by job title from the previous year’s studies to the current year’s studies. In addition, I mentioned the importance of comparing several benchmark positions to determine an overall internal pay average comparison with 5 or more market pay data sources. When you see from the ACA study that 52% of the survey job titles saw a positive or negative variance adjustment from 5% to 10% and recognizing that market pay inflation is going to average between 2.9 and 3.0%, it is evident that market pay data averages are volatile from one year to the next. If your organization uses only market pay averages and not the combination of internal job valuing and market pay analysis for pay structure, equity and competiveness analysis, then we strongly encourage more “Market Surveys Needed Please”!